Jillian Jensen brings bullying center stage on The X Factor

On Wednesday’s premiere of season two of The X Factor, we were treated to a stunning performance by Jillian Jensen singing a Jessie J song to Demi Lovato and the other judges. Of course I realize there was a lot of packaging involved, but it was very moving. [If you're a snarky cynical anti-pop person, you can tune out now.] Some of you might think this is just fluff, but I think of all the young girls who struggle with self-esteem issues that might have been helped by seeing Jillian, and who’ve already been helped by Demi and Jessie J. In the package, Jillian explains how she faced bullying in middle and high school, and how vicious it was. It’s hard not to be moved by the hurt she obviously still feels and by witnessing the obviously strained family, before she even starts singing. Here’s Jillian Jensen’s performance and the whole package with her background and the judge’s reactions:

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Demi Lovato, who joined the X Factor panel this year, is a former Barney kid and Disney star who came to wider attention a few years ago when she left her hit show and went into rehab — eventually revealing that she faced intense bullying in middle school and had struggled ever since with bulimia and self-harming. She has become a role model and powerful example to young women who struggle with self-image and helps promote an organization called Love is Louder. Jillian has found strength in Demi’s example, and was clearly moved just to be in her presence on The X Factor. Here’s Demi:

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I’m just guessing the incredible British singer Jessie J didn’t always have the easiest time in her school days. Her songs often include moving messages of love and inspiration. The one Jillian chose to sing, “Who You Are,” is a powerful testament to loving yourself and being true to yourself against all the pressures to conform, with the chorus line, “It’s OK not to be OK.” Here’s a great live version of Jessie J doing it:

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Of course there are other artists who’ve also taken up this issue — Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift come to mind immediately — but I was struck watching the show by the combination of these three strong beautiful talented women who’ve had their self-esteem attacked by small, small people. X Factor, you got me. Bawling.

About Phil Fox Rose

Phil Fox Rose is a writer, editor and content lead based in New York. He is coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of New York, helping promote centering prayer, which has been his contemplative practice for nearly 20 years. Raised atheist by ex-Mormons, Phil has journeyed through Quakerism, deep ecology, Buddhism and Catholicism. Now he's a congregant, worship leader, cook and chair of the leadership team at St. Lydia's, an awesome dinner church in Brooklyn, NY, and spends as much time in nature as possible. Phil has been a political party leader, videographer, tech journalist, punk roadie, software designer, sheepherder, stockbroker and downtempo radio DJ. A common thread is the process of learning about stuff, figuring it out and then sharing that understanding with others. Follow Phil by RSS feed, email, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

  • Teresae

    Jillian’s performance had me crying and I’m not an overtly emotional person. Demi is right however, as you could definitely feel the pain coming through in her words. She channeled it beautifully and made everyone understand how much it hurt to be in her shoes. Her voice was powerful and even though she was crying she continued to sing which made her whole performance stand out even more. The song she took on was already emotional to begin with but adding it with what she’d been through just amplified everything. This is why I’m now hooked on this show and I’ve got my Hopper set to record this season. Demi’s ability to immediately identify and then be nice enough to give her a hug after her performance speaks volumes. My DISH co-workers agree that this is the most emotional performance they’ve ever seen. I’ve been watching competition shows for a long time and I have to agree. Hopefully Jillian will do great in the competition.


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